Tag Archives: Roger Zelazny

Interview: Aaron Rosenberg

I’ve been saving this one for a while. You see, not only is Aaron Rosenberg in Keen Edge of Valor (which you can get here: amazon.com/dp/B09W91TP24/), he’s in the Eldros Legacy.

In fact, he’s got his first Eldros Legacy novel, Deadly Fortune, coming out next Tuesday. It’s a swashbuckling tale of pirates, mystery, and murder and you’re gonna love it.

And he’s pretty awesome too.

Aaron Rosenberg

  1. Why are you here? This includes influences, favorite creators, steps along the way, and dreams down the road.
Aaron Rosenberg
Aaron Rosenberg

Ha, why are any of us here? I got started writing when I was a kid, and got hooked when I won my school writing fair in third grade (beating out the fourth-graders, I might add). I pursued writing in college—I have a BA in Creative Writing and a Masters in English Lit—and my friends and I put out our first roleplaying game when I was in grad school, around the same time I started having stories and poems in small literary magazines.

Things snowballed from there—I was mostly doing RPGs for several years, then did short stories for various game-based anthologies, then tie-in novels, then educational books and children’s books, then original novels and short stories.

I’m a huge Mark Twain and Jane Austen fan, both of them were brilliant at characterization, setting, and narrative. For the more recent writers, I favor Roger Zelazny, Tim Powers, F. Paul Wilson, David and Leigh Eddings, Raymond Feist, Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, and Richard Kadrey.

I write pretty much everything, and I like to keep things varied, so I’ll do epic fantasy and then switch to mystery and then SF and so on.

The two areas I haven’t cracked yet and would love to do someday are film/TV and comic books—I’ve come close on the latter a few times, but never had one come to completion. But mainly I just love to tell stories that people enjoy.

  1. Describe your great Lab of Creation? This includes where you work, what do you listen to (if anything), things you have to have in your work environment, and stuff you’ve tried that haven’t worked.

I write mostly at home, particularly in the evenings (I have a full-time job). The corner of our basement family room is my office space, partially walled off by a set of bookcases in front of the desk and a redwood slab along the side.

Bones at Rest
Bones at Rest

When lockdown started, though, I wound up having to do my job from there, which meant by 5pm each day I was ready to be well away from the basement! So I switched to writing on my laptop in the living room—I sit on the couch right by the window. Now that my day job is mostly back in the office I’m alternating writing up there and back at my desk again.

I don’t listen to music unless there’s too much noise around for me to concentrate otherwise. If I do, it’s strictly instrumental, lots of soundtracks and strings, so I don’t have to worry about the lyrics distracting me.

I don’t really need much to write, just a comfortable chair, my computer or laptop, and my headphones if it’s loud. I’ve written in hotel rooms plenty of times, in airports, on trains, and even at my table at conventions. That last one’s a little tough for maintaining momentum, though, since I’ll pause whenever someone stops by.

  1. What are your superpowers? This includes things you like your creations, specific techniques you do well, and some favorite successes.

I’m big on worldbuilding, probably because so much of my early work was in creating RPGs. I need to know that a world makes sense—it doesn’t matter that the reader only sees the tip of the iceberg, I have to know the rest of it.

That’s especially true with magic—I’ve designed magic systems before, and for me it’s really important that they are consistent, and that there is an appropriate cost.

I’ve gotten into the habit, over the years, of building both a cast list and a glossary for my books—I’ll have those two documents open while I write, along with the manuscript itself and my notes. That way I can keep track of who everyone is, what they look like, their key traits, and also any unique words, place names, etc.

One of the things I’m good at, because I write very fast and can write almost anything, is pinch-hitting. I’ve been dropped into projects last-minute to salvage them when something has changed and they need extra help. It’s a fun challenge, getting up to speed on something quickly, finding the gaps and weak spots, and figuring out how to fill them. One of my first big RPG projects was like that, and I’ve done several novels and children’s books because an editor needed someone fast and good and knew I could deliver.

  1. What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you? This includes challenges you’ve faced that frustrated you, learning experiences, techniques for overcoming creative challenges, things you’d have done differently, and advice for new writers.
Focal Point
Focal Point

One of the biggest problems with doing tie-in work is that you’re at the mercy of the IP holder. They could decide to change something last-minute, and you don’t get to argue, you just have to adjust your work to match. I’ve had that happen more than once—it can be an interesting challenge, but it’s also really frustrating, especially if happens late in the process (like when you’ve already finished a book and they suddenly change key details).

We’ve all had failures. I wrote a book once—or started to—with a friend, and we thought it was going to combine the best of both our strengths but wound up being the worst of both our flaws instead. That was quite the learning experience!

And not just on my writing strengths and weaknesses but also on working with others. I also made a huge mistake, early on in my career, by biting off more than I could chew and not owning up to it. Now I’m very conscientious about letting my editor know if I have any issues with a project, as soon as an issue occurs.

That’s one thing I always try to tell beginning writers. There’s nothing wrong with turning down a project, and no one will ever think less of you for saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t think I can do that in the time you need.” What they will hold against you is taking the project and then blowing the deadline, turning in substandard work, etc.

If I could tell my younger self anything about writing? Huh. Probably “Stick with it, tell your editor immediately if you’re going to miss a deadline, and never put off revisions.”

My Kryptonite, though? That’s easy—just ask me to write something but tell me “it can be about whatever you want” and “turn it in whenever you like.” I’ll be paralyzed! Give me a narrow, specific topic and a tight deadline, I’m happy as a clam—leave both wide open and I’m blinded by the possibilities!

Oh, I don’t get writer’s block, though. I don’t really have time for it. I just push through, write that section the best I can, and if I have to go back and toss those pages and rewrite them, so be it—I often realize “d’oh, that’s what needed to happen there!” the next day, but I can’t see that unless I write through it the wrong way first.

Lightning Round
  • Actor/Actress You’d Like to Play Any Character You’ve Created
    Jack Black as DuckBob Spinowitz—he’s the lead character in my SF comedy series, a regular Joe who gets abducted by aliens and comes back with the head of a duck
  • Favorite Muppet?
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?
    The Weepies
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?
    Fall, definitely
  • Favorite Superhero?
    Still gotta say Spidey
  • Best Game Ever?
    D&D, of course. 3 or 3.5.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show?
    The Six Million Dollar Man!
  • Do You Have Pets? (provide pictures if you want)
    Yep, one cat, Tuppence.

  • Favorite Weird Color?
    I don’t know about weird, but cobalt blue
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received?
    A Bag of Holding, Con-Survival Edition, from ThinkGeek. I use it whenever I travel, and it’s the perfect size to carry my laptop and pretty much everything I need for the day.
  • Favorite Sports Team?
    The New Orleans Saints!
  • What Cartoon Character Are You?
  • Your Wrestler Name?
    The Gryphon Rose
  • Your Signature Wrestling Move?
    Pinning people on their stomachs and pounding on their backs like I’m typing
  • What Do You Secretly Plot?
    My next book, obviously!
  • How Will You Conquer the World?
    Through my stories. Or my snark.
  • Best Thing From the 60s/70s/80s/90s? (pick your preferred decade)
    Saturday morning cartoons in the 70s
  • Favorite Historical Period?
    Edo period Japan
  • Person In History (Living or Dead) You Want To Hang Out With?
    Mark Twain
  • Steak Temperature?
    Medium to medium-rare
  • Favorite Chip Dip?
    Fresh guacamole
  • Beverage(s) of Choice?
    Unsweetened iced tea—unless I’m down South, in which case it’s sweet tea all the way!
  • What Actor or Actress Should Portray You in Your Biopic?
    Matthew Broderick

What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round?
What can I get you at the bar? [For me, Gin & Tonic or Rum & Coke)

Editor’s Note: I also enjoy gin & tonics. 53 years malaria free! Along with IPAs, of course.

What question(s) would you like to ask me?

If there’s one book you could go back and time and make yours, what would it be?

Rob’s Answer: I’m not entirely sure how to take this question. I mean, if we’re talking books I’d like to re-write or correct something, I’ve got a bunch of those. Some that come to mind are Cornwell’s Last Kingdom books. As a scholar of that exact time period, there are things in there that make my teeth itch. Also, there are a couple of authors who are fantastic in the first 80% of their book, but routinely don’t have that epic ending their story deserves. I like epic endings and I cannot lie.

And I really wish I could have written the Song of Ice and Fire. One, it’d be done. Two, his worldbuilding is fantastic, but his prose gets bloated and the pacing of the story struggles. I would also have split it into multiple series threads so you could keep track of things better.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

I’ve got a website, gryphonrose.com, but I’m sometimes bad about updating it.

My Wikipedia page is usually more current: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_S._Rosenberg

So is my Amazon Authors page: https://www.amazon.com/Aaron-Rosenberg/e/B001JRXM5S.

I’m pretty good at posting about my current projects on Facebook (facebook.com/gryphonrose) and on Twitter (@gryphonrose), and you can find a lot of my books at Crazy 8 Press (https://www.crazy8press.com/  ), Crossroad Press (https://crossroadpress.com/ ), Falstaff Books (http://falstaffbooks.com/ ), and of course New Mythology Press (https://chriskennedypublishing.com/new-mythology-press/ ).

As far as recent projects, I’ve had two new books already out this year, each part of an ongoing series. Focal Point is an occult conspiracy thriller set in Eastern Europe, part of the O.C.L.T. series from Crossroad Press—think The X-Files meets Mission: Impossible with some Supernatural thrown in.

Bones at Rest is the fourth in my five-book Anime-esque epic fantasy series the Relicant Chronicles from Falstaff Books—basically Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets Game of Thrones.

And where can we find you?

I’m going to be at Origins Game Fair in early June, Shore Leave in mid-July, and the GenCon Writers Symposium in early August.

Do you have a creator biography?

Aaron Rosenberg is the author of the best-selling DuckBob SF comedy series, the Relicant Chronicles epic fantasy series, the Dread Remora space-opera series, and, with David Niall Wilson, the O.C.L.T. occult thriller series. His tie-in work contains novels for Star Trek, Warhammer, World of WarCraft, Stargate: Atlantis, Shadowrun, and Eureka. He has written children’s books (including the award-winning Bandslam: The Junior Novel and the #1 best-selling 42: The Jackie Robinson Story), educational books, and roleplaying games (including the Origins Award-winning Gamemastering Secrets). Aaron lives in New York. You can follow him online at gryphonrose.com, at facebook.com/gryphonrose, and on Twitter @gryphonrose.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?

What I’m working on next? That’d be a short story for a pulp anthology, followed by Book Five in the Relicant Chronicles, a Sherlock Holmes novella, and a drawing-room pirate romance-adventure novel. I’m sure other projects will come up, though. J

* * * * *

We are so honored to have Aaron writing at New Mythology Press, and after this interview, I think you can see why. And if that’s not enough, check out his writing.

Rob’s Update: A Sooper-Sekrit Update

Week 18 of 2021

Greetings all

Con season is fast approaching and I can’t wait to be in among my tribe. Last night, we recorded a Zoom panel for the Virtual LibertyCon. This one was about the Four Horsemen Universe and it was great. Really cool to be a part of that whole project.

Of course, one of the things I talked about is The Ravening of Wolves, which is scheduled for June 18. I hope to have these for the ConFinement 2.5 the week of Virtual LibertyCon. If not, I’ll have them for Armistice.

By the way, note that new addition to the schedule! Confinement 2.5 is 25-27 June in Mount Juliet, TN. More information here: https://www.confinementcon.org/.

However, the big news is FantaSci. A week from this moment I’ll be ensconced in the Raleigh-Durham airport Doubletree getting ready for an amazing weekend.

But it starts now!

Well, at 7pm Central tonight. That’s when this giveaway starts:

May Giveaway
May Giveaway

Go to http://davidjohnbutler.com/giveaways/five-books-may-giveaway/ and sign up to win all 5 of these books. Physical copies. Signed physical copies. Shipping included.

If you go to FantaSci, your chances are even higher of winning! We’re reserving two of the five winners for people who are there, to celebrate them coming and seeing Dave Butler and I person. (You foolish mortals).

Thanks to Dave Butler for organizing all this.

This week, as you can expect, has been focused on preparing for the trip. However, I’ve been plugging away at a sooper-seekrit project that I’ll have done by June 1. Then I finish a different sooper-seekrit project which will be done July 1.

But don’t worry, I’ll be posting some hints of a *third* sooper-seekrit project before any of that happens.

Lots of great stuff happening in Rob-land, even if I have to keep it all somewhat vague at the moment.

What I’m Listening To

Blood of Bannockburn by Sabaton. This is one of my songs I listen to when I’m walking. It’s impossible not to go fast with this song.

Quote of the Week

Today is Roger Zelazny’s birthday. I can’t let that pass without this quote. I may read more from e-books than physical ones these days, but I, too, feel right when I’m surrounded by books.

I like libraries. It makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words, beautiful and wise, all around me. I always feel better when I can see that there is something to hold back the shadows.
― Roger Zelazny, Nine Princes of Amber

New Mythology Works in Progress

Open call for the next New Mythology Anthology. We’ll take the top four submissions.

Deadline: 31 July
Words: 7k-10k
Manuscript: In .doc or .docx file format, Times New Roman, 12pt, 1.5 spaced
Send To: rob@chriskennedypublishing.com

Prompt: Write a fantasy story involving a beast or monster. While the story can include elements of horror, it should not be a horror story; it should be a fantasy and lean toward the heroic. Feel free to make the beast or monster your protagonist, but if not, the creature must be a central figure, (like Grendel in Beowulf).

As mentioned, we will choose the top four stories out of those submitted to add to the anthology. This is especially aimed at newer authors, though authors of any experience can enter.

Rob’s Works in Progress

  • CWTAE (1,701)
  • OPP (4,541)
  • Rick Blaine (8,845)
  • CB (8,418)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

Upcoming Events

New Releases

This week’s new release is The Dragons of Styx, book 4 in the Hit World series, by John Siers. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0946BJTD7.

Oh, and for y’all audiophiles, James Chandler’s They Call Me Princess is about to come out on Audible. This is book 8 in the Fallen World series. You can find the pre-release here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0947CTCM7.

Today’s Weight: 338.8

Updated Word Count: 116,837

Shijuren Wiki: 725 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works

Nick Patara, PI

  • Silent Knight (Nick Patara, PI, Book 1)
  • Under a Midnight Clear (Nick Patara, PI, Book 2) (Forthcoming)
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Interview: Bill Webb

For the first quarter of 2020, my Wednesday interviews will be with authors who are part of When Valor Must Hold, the upcoming anthology of fantasy stories published by Chris Kennedy Publishing.

This week’s interview is with Bill Webb, whose story “Island of Bones” is good old-fashioned pulp fantasy. Heroes, ancient evils, horrifying monsters. All the good stuff.

Interview: Bill Webb

Why are you here?

  • What are your influences? I’m heavily influenced by history, even in my fiction. At the end of the day stories are about characters, and most of my characters are humans. Since human nature is unchanging, and it is, the fun part becomes using those personality types in a new setting.For example, at its heart my series The Last Brigade is about the power of the individual to affect great events. This theme carries through in other stories like The Sting of Fate and The Moles of Vienna.
  • Who are some favorite other creators? That’s a very long list. Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, Roger Zelazny, Robert A. Heinlein, Karl Edward Wagner, all writers in the Four Horsemen Universe, John Babb, Fritz Leiber, Michael Connelly, Randy Wayne White…the list is nearly endless.
  • What made you a creator in the first place? It was probably the desire to emulate what I liked. I still have a ‘comic book’ that I started one day during High School Spanish class. I had colored pencils and everything, and drew it on ruled paper. My earliest known fiction story grew as a direct result of reading Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser’ tales.But the actual compulsion to create came from somewhere out in the ether. I’m probably the worst person to guess what that means, because I have no idea why I first felt the need to share stories. Maybe I’m an insecure showoff who needs the validation of others to feel good about myself, or maybe I just like the idea of creating something new. If either one of those is true, I’m not the one to tell you which it is, because I don’t know.
  • Why did you choose to create what you create? I’ve always thought the things I create chose me, but I guess there are lots of my creations jumping around and waving for my attention like children. And by writing a particular story, I’m choosing which one to pay attention to…okay then.It’s all very random. As a diehard pantser I always only start with a vague idea, and it’s always whatever seems appropriate at the moment. Oddly enough I do plan out which books I’m going to write when, so in that regard planning is important to me. But the actual creative process is about as haphazard as it gets.My rewrites almost always add substantial words to my first draft, so the choice of what to include and what not to lasts far beyond the point it does for most writers. In my experience, most writers pare down their first draft instead of expanding it.
  • What would you like to create someday? An alternate WW2 history series is one thing I want to create, which is actually coming later this year. I also would love to create an alternate Civil War series, Punic War series…and a space novel that I would really like to fit into the Four Horsemen Universe, but so far haven’t been able to make that work.

Describe your great Lab of Creation?

  • Where do you work? Home? Coffee Shop? Home. I can work elsewhere, but I’m usually not as good at producing things. My office is a disaster, there’s paper everywhere, books, the usual detritus of a writer, and my desk has coffee stains everywhere. One limiting factor for me is that laptop keywords are too small for my hands, so I keep hitting the wrong keys.
  • Do you listen to music? Yes, 99% of the time it’s hard rock, and 95% of that time it’s my favorite band, Status Quo, or bands that grew out of Status Quo’s example, such as Piledriver or Predatür.
  • What other things exist in your productive environment? A TV. When not listening to music, the TV is on. I get some of my best dialogue from Jerry Springer. (Truth)
  • What things have you tried that haven’t worked? Outlining. If it works for other writers, God bless ‘em, but it sure doesn’t work for me.

What are your superpowers?

  • What kinds of things do you like in your creations? Everything I write has some element of the power of the individual to affect events far beyond the scope of what one person can generally be thought to influence. I also love to play around with the role that Fate plays in great historical events. The Sting of Fate, for example, posits the difference that one wasp could have played on the history of the world, had it used its stinger at a critical moment.
  • What are specific techniques you do well? Some would argue, there are none. But I think I do a good job of putting my readers into the moment. I am often told by readers they can picture what I’m describing perfectly, despite the fact that I live by Roger Zelazny’s dictum of never using more than two descriptors. I’ve also become pretty adept at tell a scene, battles in particular, from various POVs.
  • What are some favorite successes you’ve achieved, especially things you had to struggle to overcome? The way I was taught to write was my biggest obstacle, the one that took decades to purge. Being more or less a Creative Writing major in college, I learned how to write literary fiction. My teachers wanted me to emulate Faulkner, or James Joyce, and the word ‘genre’ might earn you an ‘F.’ I did learn to write beautiful sentences, but they went nowhere because the prose was the point, not the story. Out of sheer frustration I quit writing fiction in 1996 and didn’t try it again until 2014. By then I had gotten out of the habit of ignoring story and was able to write prose that people actually enjoyed.

What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you?

  • What are some of the challenges you have faced that frustrated you? Trying to get an agent. The whole process is backward and ridiculous. Fortunately, I figured out that the whole concept of an agent is no longer important to me, or any writer that’s paying attention.
  • Do you have any creative failures which taught you something? What were those lessons? Boy do I. Whole filing cabinets full of them. I have one novel in which I combined hard SF with sword and sorcery. The concept isn’t impossible to pull off, some have done so, but it’s hard. I took this novel to a small press, this was in the 1980s, and they agreed to publish it, even naming an amount for an advance. But editor wanted me to expand a 70k word book to 120k. Keep in mind, this was before computers, so everything was written on a typewriter.I did it. It took two years, but I did it. However, I had not insisted on a contract, and when I finished the editor told me they weren’t publishing fiction anymore. He couldn’t pick up an phone and call me, even though we lived in the same city, he let me work for two years first.Needless to say, the bloated book read like a bloated book. I have since reused parts of it, but there are literally thousands of edited pages of that book still in my possession.
  • How do you overcome normal slow points like writer’s block?I have two methods. First, I don’t believe in writer’s block, I think that’s an excuse. It is for me, anyway. So if I get stuck at point, I either write another sentence no matter how bad it might be, and keep writing until the story starts flowing again, or I jump to a different scene and write that.If neither one of those works, I go to something different. It’s not unusual for me to work on 3 or 4 different projects in the same day.
  • Which mistake would you try to keep other creators from making? Wasting time trying to get an agent so you can publish traditionally. The whole thing has become a farce. There are agents who actually charge for you to pitch to them at a conference. That’s indefensible.
  • If you could go back and tell yourself anything about writing, what would it be? Listen to your own instincts. Attend writing classes, conferences, conventions and seminars, but write the way you like to read.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Miss Piggy.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Status Quo.
  • Favorite Superhero? Ben Grimm.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? The first season of MASH. Marcia Strassman was hot.
  • Favorite Weird Color? Teal.
  • Favorite Sports Team? Memphis Tigers.
  • Best Game Ever? Chess.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Summer.
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? It’s X-rated.
  • What Cartoon Character Are You? Johnny Quest.
  • Your Wrestler Name? Wham-wham William.
  • Your Signature Wrestling Move? Pulling a Colt 1911.
  • What Do You Secretly Plot? To buy Jamaica.
  • How Will You Conquer the World? In my dreams.
  • Best Thing From the 80s? My kids.
  • Favorite Historical Period? World War Two.
  • Most Interesting Person In History? Winston Churchill.
  • Steak Temperature? Medium well.
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  French onion.
  • Favorite Cereal? Raisin Bran.
  • What Do You Eat For Your Last Meal? Bacon cheeseburger with fries and chocolate shake.
  • Beverage(s) of Choice? Unleaded: Diet Pepsi. Leaded: mojito.
  • Do You Have Pets? Yes, seven dogs.
  • What Actor or Actress Should Portray You in Your Biopic? If we was younger, Donald Sutherland. I once got a free meal by pretending to be his brother.
  • What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round? What book have you re-read the most?

What question(s) would you like to ask me?

What’s the best answer you’ve gotten to one of these interview questions?

Rob’s Answer: Probably Quincy Allen’s “Don’t let the naysayers win.” This isn’t an easy job, especially since it tests one’s confidence daily and we all deal with imposter syndrome. That’s the serious answer, but I’ll admit there’s been some fantastic Lightning Round answers. Those are often my favorites in a given interview.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

  • www.thelastbrigade.com
  • https://www.facebook.com/keepyouupallnightbooks
  • Currently on sale for .99, the Darrell-Award winning Sharp Steel. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0785PKZDF/
    And also in audiobook, read by the great Simon Vance.
  • Standing In Righteious Rage, The Last Brigade Book 5, is scheduled for release in early May. High Mountain Hunters, a planned book in the 4HU, should be delivered by mid-May. Also, I have agreed to a World War Two alternate history trilogy with Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Press, titled A World Afire. It’s a great year for me to be stoked!

And where can we find you?

  • I’m a Special Guest at Tupelocon, the first weekend in March
  • Midsouthcon March 20-22
  • Libertycon in June
  • I’m also doing a signing at Fort Knox in July.

Do you have a creator biography?

Born and raised by a family of nomadic badgers in West Tennessee, Bill Webb wrote his first stories in grade school, terrifying all who knew him, and that was before he found comic books and science fiction.  (He is still angry at having a copy of X-Men #53 ripped out of his hands during 11th grade Spanish class.)

The release in 2016 of his Last Brigade series changed his career path by actually giving him a career path. The Time Wars and Sharp Steel and High Adventure series’ soon followed.

By age 25 he’d read all of the classics…Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Robert Heinlein, Michael Moorcock and Roger Zelazny. Later influences include Larry Niven, Jerry Pournell and Larry Corriea. Indulging himself in a double concentration at the University of Memphis of Creative Writing and History, college felt more like a long party than school.

After multiple careers in various industries, he much prefers writing books and stories to any sort of actual work. His idea of punching a clock these days is a coffee maker that finishes brewing its magic five minutes before he gets up in the morning.

Snippet from Bill’s new fantasy story, titled Beyond the Dead River.

The crocodile wanted to submerge, but she pulled back on the reins and kept the tired reptile swimming. The thrusts of its powerful tail had slowed, as had its paddling feet, but her stance astride its back allowed direct use of the spurs on her bootheels to keep it moving forward. At last it reached the river’s far shore and hauled the entire enormity of its bulk onto the mud flat. Rolling out the tethering chain, she looped it around the bole of a giant tree and scanned both ways for potential predators.

The dense jungle didn’t intimidate her. Vines with thorns and thick, oval leaves hung from trees taller than a castle’s keep, while a nearby stream emptied into the muddy river. Despite her knowledge of the rain forest, the dense undergrowth and deepening twilight left her dreading the need to travel in darkness deeper than the perpetual shadows of the rain forest. Her nostrils flared as she sniffed a light breeze for the scent of any nearby predators, and one eye twitched at a musky smell she knew belonged to a python. She would have to be very careful.

She had the lean, muscular physique of a warrior. Her limbs didn’t have the soft curves of a city born woman, but instead had muscles that appeared roughly cut from stone. Yet no one could mistake her for being a man. She had chosen her raiment specifically for travel through in the jungle. She had tucked loose trousers of well-worked animal leather into calf-high boots of snake-skin, with a leather shirt stretched tight across her chest. Two longs knives hung from a simple belt around her waist. Thick, curly black hair fell past her shoulders, held in place by a rawhide thong. A stained, short-brimmed hat protected her head from the countless overhead threats that inhabited the country through which she had to pass to achieve her mission.

Thanks to Bill for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: https://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell


Interview: Quincy J. Allen

For the first quarter of 2020, my Wednesday interviews will be with authors who are part of When Valor Must Hold, the upcoming anthology of fantasy stories published by Chris Kennedy Publishing.

This week’s interview comes from Quincy J. Allen, a fantastic author who’s already made a name for himself though I think he’s still a rising star.  His story is a Fistful of Silver, set in his Guardians of Pelinon universe, and it’s something as if Raymond Chandler wrote Sparhawk instead of David Eddings. Needless to say, I loved it.

Interview: QJ Allen
QJ Allen
QJ Allen

Why are you here?

  • What are your influences?
    Jullian May, Robert Heinlein, Roger Zelazny, Keith Laumer, Jack Chalker, Kenneth C. Flint, Poul Anderson, Steven Brust
  • Who are some favorite other creators?
    Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira), Ridley Scott (Blade Runner), Frank Herbert (Dune), Olaf Stapledon (Last and First Men), Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek), Jon Favreau (EVERYTHING)
  • What made you a creator in the first place?
    Seriously, though, I wrote my first fiction story in the 3rd or 4th grade. I’ve always written. Writing got me through primary, secondary, Bachelors, and Masters education. It was always there in every professional job I ever had. And when I got RIFed in 2009, it made more sense to just try and be a professional writer.
  • Why did you choose to create what you create?
    As a boy, I read the Jupiter Jones mysteries and loved them. A few years later, my older brother handed me his copy of “The Science Fiction Hall of Fame,” and I was hooked. There was no going back, and I devoured science fiction and sci-fi crossed with others from there on out. I read fantasy, but my staple was science fiction. When I discovered Julian May’s “The Many Colored Land” series, which is pure cross genre between sci-fi and fantasy, I truly fell in love. So, I’ve written what I love as much as possible.
  • What would someday like to create.
    The entire Blood War Chronicles series of six books is a setup so that I can write Skeeter’s story as a 30-year-old airship privateer captain gunslinger sorceress engineer. So, that will be a thing. I also plan on writing a three-book series set in that same universe that connects the three great fires of the 19th century via a Jesuit witch/demon hunter. I’ll be writing a powered armor series as well as a new fantasy series involving druids. But I have to get my current commitments behind me, and that’s no mean feat.
Blood War Cover
Blood War Cover

Describe your great Lab of Creation?

  • Where do you work? Home? Coffee Shop?
    I take my laptop everywhere when I travel with my wife. She travels for her job, so I sometimes get to tag along for free trips. She has mad hotel and airline points. My actual workspace, however, is in our two story shop in the back yard. It triples as her sewing room, my actual work shop for carpentry, repairs, leather working, and whatnot, as well as a three-monitor workstation where I used to also run a small book design and author collateral marketing business. I spend most of my waking time out in a shop so I can open the doors in the summer and use the kerosene heater in the winter.
  • Do you listen to music? If so, give some examples.
    I’ve never been able to work without music. It drove my old man crazy when I was a kid, but that part wasn’t negotiable. The first thing I do when I get into the shop is fire up Pandora. As to my music tastes, they’re more expansive than anyone I’ve ever met, and they can be quite eclectic. On any give day, you can hear Pentatonix, Joe Bonamassa, The Hu (Mongolian death metal), Steely Dan, Steam Powered Giraffe, Bach, Mozart, Five Finger Death Punch, electronica, daft punk, techno, Celtic—pretty much everything except modern country twang and most rap. Those two are a hard no, Bob.
  • What other things exist in your productive environment?
    Cigars and my tobacco pipe. I work better with them. Oh, and COFFEE. Always coffee in the morning. And whenever I can manage it, fresh air and the sound of birds. Our house is surrounded by trees here in North Carolina. I come from Colorado, where there aren’t many trees until you get to the mountains. Here, it’s pretty much a friggin bird sanctuary, and I love it. It’s one of my favorite parts of the Carolinas.
  • What things have you tried that haven’t worked?
    Romance writing, for one. I don’t have a knack for literary fiction either. That stuff bores the shit out of me. I’ve written variations on just about all of the genres, however. Science fiction, mystery, noir, fantasy, steampunk, horror, speculative… most of my stories mix at least two of those.
Enforcer Cover
Enforcer Cover

What are your superpowers?

  • What kinds of things do you like in your creations?
    I’ve been told (and I agree) that I do three things fairly well. Fight scenes, dialogue, and descriptions. I’ve also been honing my skills with world building, and I think I’ve finally gotten pretty good at that. If I had to pick one, though, it would probably be hand-to-hand fight scenes. I used to train in martial arts pretty heavily, even with a marine and a Green Beret. I can see a fight in my head, and that seems to translate pretty well to the written word. That’s the rumor, at least.
  • What are specific techniques you do well?
    I’ve done it on three separate instances, and in all of them, the process was smooth and the output worth the effort. I’ve gotten pretty good at outlining as a result of those projects, although my outlines become a mix of bullet points and dialogue. I’ve also gotten pretty good at popping up prose with a more active voice. There are hiccups from time to time, but I’ve mostly broken myself of the passive voice devil.
  • What are some favorite successes you’ve achieved, especially things you had to struggle to overcome?
    One certainly was passive voice. Also, as a result of working with Marc Edelheit, I’ve gotten much better at flowing from one scene into the next. Looking back, I think there were pieces of a story that I skipped over. The result wasn’t jarring, per se, but what I’m doing now is much smoother as one reads through my prose. Also, I think I’ve gotten at least competent as capturing a single, targeted emotion that I want the reader to experience by the end of a story. Most of the time, especially in my short fiction, I strive to make the reader “feel” something very specific. Be it honor or sacrifice or duty or whatever, I’ve learned to write entire stories so that most of the prose leads to that experience.
Reclaiming Honor Cover
Reclaiming Honor Cover

What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you?

  • What are some of the challenges you have faced that frustrated you?
    The first is sticking with a writing career when sales are lackluster or even worse. A perfect example is the Blood War Chronicles. They’re good books, with good reviews, but they haven’t created the revenue stream I’d hoped for. In fact, I’ve been at this game for ten—make that eleven—years now, and I can’t say that I earn a living with my writing. I think that’s the hardest part for most writers: sticking with this game even when you’re not selling. I often joke with a writer friend of mine, Aaron Ritchey, about how we’re “living the dream.” But that dream is the joke. We keep writing, we keep not selling the way we would like, and yet we keep writing. I think the other is that I’m really proud of at least a few short stories (Family Heirloom, Salting Dogwood, Jimmy Krinklepot and the White Rebels of Hayberry, and a few others, that I think are exceptional short stories, but they’ve never really been acknowledged for what I “think” they are. Granted, I have a bias, but I believe those stories are truly noteworthy.
  • Do you have any creative failures which taught you something? What were those lessons?
    From a monetary perspective, I think you could call everything I ever wrote in the first nine years of my career (except one story I wrote for Larry Correia’s MHI franchise) as failures. None of them came close to providing an ROI on the time I’ve invested in them. However, that’s hasn’t slowed me down. And that’s the lesson, one I think most writers could learn from. If you keep going and keep getting better, eventually you’re bound to gain momentum. My work in recent years with Marc Edelheit, Kevin Ikenberry, and CKP are a testament to that. Last year and this year are seeing actual returns on my investment of time. The trick is to keep going and always hone your craft.
  • How do you overcome normal slow points like writer’s block?
    I take Eric Flint’s advice. There is no writer’s block. You keep writing, because it’s your job. Either you are a writer and you write, or you’re a hobbyist who doesn’t want to earn a living at this mad career choice.
  • Which mistake would you try to keep other creators from making?
    I’ve said this at cons and in panels dozens of times: “Don’t let the nay-sayers win.” I grew up hearing the phrase, “What? You want to be a starving artist the rest of your life.” As a young man, I listened to this “advice.” If I had started in earnest at 20 what I ended up starting at 43, I’d already be earning a living at this game. It just takes time and determination, so long as you keep getting better. So, to any writer who hears/reads this, when someone questions your desire to become a writer, just tell them to fuck off. Keep going, make sure your bills are paid, keep your bills low, and DON’T QUIT.
  • If you could go back and tell yourself anything about writing, what would it be?
    See above. That’s the best advice anyone in this crazy game could receive. Writers have enough doubt and imposter syndrome without getting it from outside sources. Find ways to kick the nay-sayers to the curb.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Animal, of course. Oh, and Sam the Eagle.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Ian Moore and Joe Bonamassa.
  • Favorite Superhero? Both the Punisher and Deadpool in a perfect tie.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Monty Python
  • Favorite Weird Color? Teal
  • Favorite Sports Team? Sidney Swans
  • Best Game Ever? Halo, OF COURSE. That and Mass Effect.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? I fucking HATE snow and delight when it dies.
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? My 2016 Moto Guzzi Audace. Vicki got that for me for my birthday last year. Nothing else compares.
  • What Cartoon Character Are You? Did they make Roy Batty into a cartoon? If so, him. If not, I guess I’d have to say the dog Marc Antony in the old Warner Brother’s cartoon “Feed the Kitty.” Ask Vicki, she’ll tell you.
  • Your Wrestler Name? Wrath
  • Your Signature Wrestling Move? The Smash. A single fist to the crown of someone’s skull. REALLY hard.
  • What Do You Secretly Plot? Convincing Vicki that we need an AR-10 and a Marlin .357 lever action rifle in the house.
  • How Will You Conquer the World? By eliminating deceit everywhere.
  • Best Thing From the 80s? 11:59:50 pm on 12/31/1989 — the nightmare was over.
  • Favorite Historical Period? The Renaissance and dawn of looking to the stars as stars, not “the Heavens.”
  • Most Interesting Person In History? The alien that gave humans blue eyes.
  • Steak Temperature? Medium rare… or I’ll cut you.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Really good 7-layer dip.
  • Favorite Cereal? As a kid, Honeycomb. Now, Honey Bunches of Oats topped with sliced peaches rather than milk.
  • What Do You Eat For Your Last Meal? Pad Thai made by Vicki’s son, and it was REALLY good. We’re all cooks around here.
  • Beverage(s) of Choice? Arnold Palmer, Costco flavored seltzer, Tennesee Mules, Margaritas, and COFFEE, lots of COFFEE.
  • Pachy

    Do You Have Pets? He was Vicki’s dog before I moved in, but he’s my dog too, and he’s the best hound I’ve ever known.

  • What Actor or Actress Should Portray You in Your Biopic? Rutger Hauer when he was younger and not dead?
  • What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round? Favorite food(s), nemesis, favorite vice, Commandments broken or Deadly Sins enjoyed.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

  • https://www.amazon.com/Quincy-J-Allen/e/B009C9C5SA
  • http://www.quincyallen.com/
  • Reclaiming Honor” with Marc Edelheit and “Enforcer” with Kevin Ikenberry.
  • Upcoming Projects: “Forging Destiny” – Book 2 of The Way of Legend with Marc Edelheit, “Scourge” – Book 2 of Hr’ent’s tale with Kevin Ikenberry, “Blood World” – Book 4 of The Blood War Chronicles, a Vorwhol novel for Kevin Steverson in his Salvage universe, and a novelization of the short story “Cradle and All” in Jamie Ibson’s universe.

And where can we find you?

  • ConCarolina
  • SAGA conference
  • LibertyCon
  • DragonCon

Do you have a creator biography?

National Bestselling Author Quincy J. Allen is a cross-genre author with a growing number of published novels under his belt. His media tie-in novel Colt the Outlander: Shadow of Ruin was a Scribe Award finalist in 2019, and his noir novel Chemical Burn was a Colorado Gold Award finalist in 2010.

Blood Oath, book 3 of his Blood War Chronicles series, debuted in February of 2019, and he is working on the fourth book in that six-book fantasy steampunk series, entitled Blood World, due out in 2020.

He co-authored the fantasy novel Reclaiming Honor with Marc Alan Edelheit in their Way of Legend series, released in October of 2019, and he is currently working on book 2 of that series. In November of 2019, he and Kevin Ikenberry published the novel Enforcer, which is set in the Four Horsemen Universe and is part of Ikenberry’s Peacemaker series. He is currently working on a novel for Kevin Steverson’s Salvage Title universe based upon the short story “Vorwhol Dishonor.”

His short story publications are numerous, including a pro sale appearing in Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter: Files from Baen, published in October of 2017 entitled “Sons of the Father,” as well as several pro-sale novelettes appearing in Chris Kennedy Publishing’s mil-sci-fi anthologies in and out of the Four Horsemen Universe. He also has two short story collections in his Out Through the Attic series, and he continues to add to his short-story credits with each passing year.

He works out of his home in Charlotte, North Carolina, and hopes to one day be a New York Times bestselling author.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?

You should have asked if I only work alone or do I have a support  mechanism? What keeps me going?

Then I’d answer that Vicki is my anchor and more supportive of my writing career than anyone else in my entire life.

Thanks to Quincy for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: https://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell